Why The Ye's And Thou's?

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By Dr. Bruce Cummons

One of the most criticized characteristics of the Authorised Version of the Bible is the use of English pronouns. Some unlearned scholars go to great lengths to make fun of thee's, thou's, and ye's. "Why not just use you?" they say. Yet this is one of the strongest points of the Authorised Version.

In the language of the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament there is a very distinct difference between the second person singular and the second person plural pronouns. We make no difference in modern English--both singular and plural are translated you. However, in old English there exists a difference just as there is in Greek and Hebrew. As a result the old English used in the Authorised Version gives far more precise translation than would modern English.

In our Authorised Version, THEE, THOU, THY, and THINE are always singular. YOU, YE, and YOUR are always plural. If the second person pronoun starts with a "t" (in the English translation) then it is singular. If it starts with a "y" it is plural. This information helps us to better interpret God's Word.

It is interesting to note that, contrary to popular opinion, the word YOU is used in the Authorised Version of the Bible 2,004 times in fact. The thee's and the ye's are used also for accuracy and directness of translation; perhaps the so-called "old" English could better be described as good old "Bible" English.

Praise the Lord for it.

[Excerpted from Archaic or Accurate: Modern Translations of the Bible and You versus Thee in the language of worship, Edited by J.P. Thackway, Wiltshire, England: The Bible League, nd, pp. 43,44.]